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Antler in Nature

Deerstalkers

For Adult Readers 

Prologue 

 I wasn’t always the one being hunted. I used to be a hunter but after what I have witnessed. My minds eye finally opened instead of being strictly shut before I could think for myself. They fooled me, lied to me, tortured me and made me believe that what we were doing was honorable, for forty years of my life. That we were the victims and the prey were the predators.

Since my eyes have opened to the truth I have become a bright and shiny new game for them to play. Their claws have been sharpened, their eyes are pinpoint focused and their well thought out plan is set in motion but they’re forgetting that their well thought out plan is what I had invented. Their biggest weakness was never taking the time to observe me as well as I have observed them which makes me unpredictable, although they think otherwise.

 

I’ve finally made it across the desert and have entered into Forgance, a Province that centers around forging rolling hot metal that tends to leave a lasting smell in your nostril hairs for weeks and the air is caked with soot making it hard to breathe. I pull the black handkerchief over my nose and mouth. I have no other choice. The hunters are looking for me or shall I say, Deerstalkers. I overheard that term from one of the local preys in a near by village, just outside of the desert. Us deerstalkers have a term for the preys too, known as Dupes. We are brainwashed to believe that Dupes have minds of mush or in other words dumb as they carelessly steal and destroy the valuable’s of our country and are the reason for the down fall of Nefarious, the name of our country. But since I left the Hunter Clan, I’ve seen different. The real reason is the Deerstalkers that are hunting innocent Dupes or shall I say Prey in respect for them. I left days ago and now I’ve become a Prey. I also feel for the other deerstalkers that are unknowingly killing innocent lives as they believe that they are doing what is right for the country. Believing the vile lies our Lord Haven has seared into our minds since before we could walk.

Ironic isn’t it? That the lord called himself Haven, as if he is a safe haven and as if he is saving the country from ruin.

What’s truly heart wrenching is that he has fooled the Preys into thinking that he is also their safe haven and the Deerstalkers have no idea of this. I was blind to it until I separated from the group which made me find out the dark and stomach turning truth of who our leader is and the disturbing state our country is trapped in and I continue to learn more as I travel down these unknown trails.

Prologue Written by: Kaylee Buckingham

Castle on Hill

Chapter 1 

Seven Days Ago

  Lord Safe Haven has informed us that the predators are putting our county deeper into ruin, those slimy vermin. They all need to be thrashed till there is nothing left to them. 

  “Can you believe it Cormac?” Erik my good old buddy expressed as he looked at me with reasonable disgust on his face. 

  “Their idiot brains are no surprise to me anymore. They will continue to plunder all over the lands and they won’t stop till they run this country into the ground.” I said with great determination.

 “Their frolicking with zero intelligence as they plunder! They need to be hunted more than we have done and rip away everything they hold dear! They are a disgrace to this country!” Erik projected. 

  “I highly agree! They need to be put in their place, to be taught a lesson and be buried beneath the earth and burn away their existence” 

 

  Suddenly a wave of people came rushing towards us with worried expressions on their faces and then came to a halt in front of Erik and I. 

 “Lord Haven has instructed us to hunt the Dupes this evening, strictly at seven, no later no less.” Maeve said sweetly. A beautiful woman with wistful caramel blonde hair and soft creamy skin.

 “Perfect! Did he say which province?” I asked shyly, avoiding eye contact but it was impossible with those glittery pale green eyes of hers. 

 “Yes we are to hunt in Commodity” Maeve raised her voice for the rest of the crowd to hear. 

 “Wait, in Commodity? That’s the most lavish of all provinces.” Darin shared, another pal of mine. 

 “Yes Lord Haven wants us to finally cut them at the source that continues to supply these lowlifes that is destroying not only our own province but all of Nefarious.” Maeve replied while I was deeply captivated by her beliefs and the words she used stimulated me.

 “What are we waiting for! Let’s leave now and rip them apart!” Erik yelled as the whole crowd cheered with him.

 “No! We must obey our Lords orders.” Maeve said sternly as she glared at Erik. The only thing I hated, was my best companion and the woman I’m beguiled by, despise each other. Erik rolled his eyes and huffed. 

 “We are to make our way to the grounds and practice our skills for battle” Maeve instructed as the crowd, Erik and I made our way to the grounds and chose our preferred weapons. Mine was the common sword, easy and quick. Some liked to get fancy with their weapons such as nunchucks with blades, double sided daggers, chain whips, bow and arrows, and the list goes on.  

 

 Everyone began slashing at targets with their desired weapons. Call me old fashioned but I’ve stuck with using a sword for over twenty years. Erik has been the same with his double sided daggers for each of his hands. He made a strap to attach it around his right hand to never have to worry about losing it while he could use the other for throwing if necessary but it always seemed necessary to him. As I watched Erik thrash at the dummy made out of straw, I caught something different about his eyes as if they turned into a black liquid. I shook my head, I must be seeing things. It oddly chilled me to the bone. 

I started slashing some dummies all though I didn’t need to, I know well enough on how to use a simple sword such as this. The rest of the younglings still need better practice especially with the weapons they had chosen. Usually you'd start out with a sword and work your way up but these ones have cut right to the chase. Us elders will show them how to get better at their craft. 

As hours passed Maeve approached the group. 

 “Seven o’clock is coming near and we must make our way to Commodity!” Maeve ordered as her voice carried over the crowd and she waved her arm and pointed towards Commodity as we charged forward. Her hair moved swiftly in the wind that smelt like vanilla and rose. 

 “HALT!” Maeve showed the back of her hand to the group that was following behind her and we all screeched in our tracks.

 “Before we barge in and make a scene and get us all killed. We need to slip in without anyone hearing us or seeing us.” Maeve instructed.

 “Us? Get killed? HA!” Erik laughed.

 “Arrogance does not become you Erik. Now follow my lead” Maeve said while ignoring Erik. 

 “What a bitch.” Erik whispered to me.

 “Just follow the rules.” I replied.

 “You know this is stupid right?” Erik said.

 “How?”

 “These Dupes don’t know how to battle with such small brains. We could rush in, slash them all and we’ll be out in twenty minutes, tops!” Erik shared.

 “Erik. We’re in Commodity, the center of Nefarious. They have more power and are further equipped than the rest of the provinces. So in this instance I agree with Maeve.” I said.

 “Well of course you do” Erik gagged and rolled his eyes. 

 “What do you mean by that?” I whispered back.

 “Shut it!” A man said from behind us.

I didn’t say another word as we were stealthily sneaking behind Maeve and the rest of the group but Erik pointed at me and Maeve insinuating that I wanted to insert myself into her. I thought that was rather vulgar but he wasn’t lying. 

In Commodity there is a stone wall built around the province. We snuck along it and came to an open arch where guards stood. Maeve motioned one of her friends in the group to knock out both of the guards, Erin. Who Erik admired as much as I admire Maeve. Erin is one of the best and quickest when it comes to silent killings and knock outs. Erin swiftly knocked out the guard with his own helmet and he fell to the ground as did the other guard. 

 “Nice work Erin!” Maeve praised as Erik looked proud. 

They stepped over the guards except for Erik, he stepped on them as if they didn’t exist. We kept walking along the wall and getting closer to the castle.

 “Maeve.” I whispered.

 “What?” She whispered impatiently.

 “Are we…invading the castle?” I asked.

Maeve looked around and at the others who heard my question and seemed to have wondered the same as some nodded and others looked at her intensely, waiting for her to answer. 

She looked back at me and gave me a slight nod as the others gasped.

 “Why? Who are we attacking?” I asked.

 “I don’t have time to explain.” Maeve replied. 

 “We didn’t train for this.” Said one of the younglings, looked to be about twenty. 

 “You’ve trained long enough.” Maeve replied.

  “Did Lord Haven instruct for us to do this?” I asked.

 “Yes. Why are you questioning this?” Erin replied for Maeve. 

 “It sounds as if we are attacking the authorities.” I asked nervously. 

 “Who cares Cormac!” Erik said.

 “We could all die or worse end up in prison” I replied. Prison was where people prayed for death but it would never come, well just never soon enough. 

 “Your overreacting.” Erik said. 

 "Lord Haven wouldn’t put us in a suicide mission if he knew we couldn’t handle it.” Maeve said. I know I'm not doing well with winning Maeve's affection but this was bigger.

 “He wants us to take out the leader who is trying take Lord Havens place! We don’t want that do we?” Erin asked Cormac as she raised her eyebrow. 

I answered with a nod. I had no more words just my head was swirling with concern. I’m never usually like this, concerned. I’m unsure of why. Just a feeling in my gut tells me something just isn’t right. I've never question Lord Haven or Maeve. 

 “It’s time” Maeve whispered and turned around to face the group. “We are going to raid the castle. Your mission is to kill anyone in sight but our main goal is to kill Commodity’s Leader, Deirdre.” 

 “Let’s go!” Erik roared. 

 “Fuck Erik! Are you trying to get us all killed? SHUT UP!” Maeve whispered harshly as Erik hung his head. Something I never saw him do especially not for Maeve. 

Maeve instructed us all to charge into the doors of the castle. We busted down the large wooden doors and began slashing the guards and anyone that approached us. I swung my sword at a few guards and they fell dead. The room was turning into a massacre. Suddenly someone was running towards me, I quickly drew my sword up but then I saw this person who without doubt was apart of the Royal family due to the lofty quality she was dressed in. She looked distraught and unarmed. Why am I hesitating. She is part of the royals that we are instructed to kill, but for some strange reason and for the first time ever, I couldn’t bring myself to stab her. She looked so innocent. Innocent, a word I never thought or spoke of. What was happening to me?

 “Please Sir, your attacking the wrong sort of people.” The lady said. 

 “What do you mean?” I asked as everyone around us were thrashing at her family members as tears were welling up in her eyes. Then suddenly Erik grabbed a hold of her arm.

 “What do we have here!” He said slyly.

 “PLEASE DONT HURT ME!” She begged as she looked at me desperately to help her. Then once again I caught Erik’s eyes turning black like it had before.

 “And why shouldn’t we?” Erik laughed.

 “Erik” I said, wanting him to let her go.

 “What’s your problem Cormac? Why haven’t you killed her yet?”

 “I…I don’t know.” I said as he looked at me confused. 

  “Well I have her now, go ahead” Erik said as he held her forward and she continued to sob.

 “All of you are blind! BLIND!” She screamed in horror that I was going to kill her but for some reason I had no intention to do so and was more curious to why she said we're all blind.

 “Come on Cormac, DO IT!” Erik said while shaking the woman. 

 “No.” I said backing away and avoiding eye contact with Erik.

 “DO IT!” Erik screeched.

 “NO!” I yelled back and whipped my gaze into his.

 “You fucking coward!” Erik said as he turned her around quickly and before I could rip her away from his arms, he killed her with his double edged sword that was tied around his hand. She fell to the floor in front of my feet. I stood bewildered. Death and murder never bothered me before but maybe it was because she was an innocent. We came to kill the leader not the people who lived within the castle this wasn’t right. I have always been an honorable man and did my duties for our Lord without question. I shook my head and ran towards a corridor leaving Erik behind. I saw a guard and killed him with my sword without thought as if it was reactionary or as if it was programmed in me. My emotions and thoughts were playing tug of war. I wasn’t supposed to stray from the group but I had to get out of there. I was finally alone and I dropped my sword. As I heard it clang against the stone floor, my hands clamped on to my knees and I hung my head as I breathed in and out heavily. After a few minutes I finally looked up and saw the room I ran into. I’m in the Leaders throne room. I saw her chair sitting tall and it looked intimidating. No one was in sight. I walked around looking at the paintings on the walls and saw one of them was of that young woman who Erik killed, she was a Princess. I felt remorse, is that what this feeling was? Remorse. What has happened to me. Suddenly voices are echoing but from where? I put my back to the wall near me and keep quiet, trying to hear where the voices were coming from. 

 “What are we to do your Majesty?” Someone asked as it echoed down a corridor. I took a few steps forward and saw that there was a small opening in the wall that looked to be one of those hidden rooms. I stood close to the opening and took a quick peak and looked down the hall. There stood the leader, Deirdre and one of her servants and then she spoke and I quickly and quietly turned away from their view and stayed against the wall, listening in. 

 “I don’t know Mary-Ann. These poor souls don’t know what they’re doing. They believe everything their leader tells them.” Deirdre replied.

 “What do they believe?” The servant asked. 

 “They believe that I am taking Lord Havens place.” Deirdre replied. 

 “But... you're not are you?” 

Deirdre chuckled, “No of course not, but Lord Haven is using me to be their distraction, so they never learn the truth.” Deirdre sounded chocked up. 

 “How will we stop them?” The servant asked. 

 “We have to attack back, they are too far gone for us to be able to help them."

Written By; Kaylee Buckingham

Chapter 2 Coming Soon...

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